The perfect tree
I don't know what the hell possessed me to go and do it. It must have been temporal insanity, yes that's what I could plead if anybody asked me. Still it was just too much fun to pass.
Hutch finally had decided to play nice with the other kids and join in the euphoric sentimentalism that is Christmas, at least according to him and we even went Christmas shopping together. That is for gifts for others, couldn't very well let the other see what kind of gift he'd get. So the only thing left was for me to get the Christmas tree and that's where the fun began.
I'd told Hutch that I'd take care of the tree, like I usually did. He might be a bit of a grinch when Christmas is concerned but he always did come celebrate it with me. And I even found some Christmas decoration in his own place, and not in a box that is. But we were going to do it like every year, have the big party at my house. It's almost Christmas Eve, only a few days left and I'd invited Hutch over to help me decorate the tree I'd gotten us for the holiday. Of course I hadn't told him what kind of tree so when he came over, the first thing he went looking for was the tree. I think deep down inside he really likes Christmas and all that celebrating, he just won't admit it.
„So where's the tree, Starsk?“ he asked me, still looking around. I had pointed over to the table and told him that it's directly next to the box with the decorations. I really had to fight the grin that threatened to split my face at his unbelieving look when he saw it. He went over to the „tree“ and had a good look at it, frowning.„Starsky, I thought you were going to buy a Christmas tree?“ He still was confused.
„Yeah, that's what I did. You like our tree, don't you?“ I was really pleased with myself, almost giddy with excitement at his reaction. Maybe I should've layed off of those sugar candies I had before Hutch came over.
„But I thought you were getting us a real Christmas tree.“ He repeated, pointing towards the box on the table. I was practically bouncing by now, the confused look on his face was really cute and priceless.
„Yesss“, I repeated slowly, petting the box almost affectionately. „That's exactly what I did, so do you like it?“ I batted my eyelashes a few times for the effect and it wasn't without reaction from him.
„Do I like it?“ He repeated, baffled. „There is no way you are putting that thing up on Christmas. That's not a Christmas tree! It's not natural!!“
„Well, duh, of course it's not“, I told him, this time I couldn't quite lose the grin on my face. „It's an artificial Christmas tree. That way we won't need to go out and get another one next year and can spend more time buying presents and have a lot more time baking cookies for me. Besides it's not gonna leave a mess like the one last year with all the needles falling down and laying on the floor. Do you have an idea how hard they are to get rid of every year? I'm not getting any younger, you know.“
I could see him getting redder after the slight frenzy he'd worked himself into after his last statement and giggled mentally. I wouldn't dare doing it loud, it wouldn't do my work any good if I did.
„Who cares about the needles?! He almost shouted by now. „In my whole life I've never had an artificial Christmas tree. I will never have an artificial Christmas tree, not as long as I can help it. It's not natural and I won't allow this to happen in my house...erm, your house!!“
With that he stormed out into the kitchen, still muttering about tree that I'd gotten and the unfairness of the world in general. I couldn't help and laugh out loud this time. It was just like predicted and even better then. Still smiling I took the box and went outside, directly to my neighbour's house and knocked. When the elderly lady who lived there with her husband opened the door she was smiling as well.
„Well, did he like it?“ She asked innocently and I grinned even wider as I handed her the empty box over.
„Thanks for letting me borrow the box“, I said. „He liked it as much as predicted and maybe I'll even tell him about it; later when he'll have something to drink.“
„Don't worry about it. It was just fortunate for you that I still had the original box of our tree. I take it you want your real tree then?“ She answered, putting the box down on the floor behind her and reaching for the tree that leaned against the wall. But I shook my head, my grin still plastered on my face.
„Not yet, I'm not quite finished with my 'Operation Christmas Tree'“, I told her and she laughed at that.
„The poor guy, don't you think you're a bit too hard on him?“
„Nah, it's just some goodnatured fun, besides I think I owe him that
much for the last years“, I said and added that I'd be by later for getting
my tree. „Thank you so much for going along with me there.“
„It's my pleasure, dear. My husband was the same when he was younger and I know how much I enjoyed telling him about our new tree when I bought it.“
I left, promising to come back later with more stories and of course I had to, had to get tree I'd parked temporarily at her house. I've made my way back to my house, taking the tree I'd left outside the door with me before I went back in.
„I'm here, Starsk“, he answered me from the living room. „Look, I'm sorry about who I reacted earlier. If you want that tree“, he hestated a bit at the last word, „it's fine with me. Really, it is, besides I've seen it says on the box that it's fireproof, the tree I mean, so we won't have the same experience like last year...“
„Don't mention that, please“, I almost begged him when I came out from the bedroom where I'd put the other tree down, still vividly remembering what had happened that last year at the Christmas party but then we both broke out into huge grins.
„But it was fun, too.“ We both said almost at the same time.
„You didn't think I'd have a plastic tree in my house, not for Christmas, did you, Hutch?“ I asked, going back to my original plan for the perfect tree. I was so happy that I had found it when I did so I couldn't keep it that joiy from sharing it with my partner. In my own twisted way. Besides I still could go for that insanity plea. But at the apologizing looks on his face I almost felt a bit sorry for doing this to him. Here he was finally willing to go though all the Christmas frenzy with me for real, for the first time in years and I was making fun of it...well in some ways. But I said almost, didn't I?
„Of course I did buy a real tree, what do you think of me?“ I said, really proud of my returned control of the grin on my face. „It's in the bedroom, why don't you go and get it while I'm getting the box with the decorations, hm?“
He went to go for the bedroom and I put the box that I had stashed behind the couch on the table. After a while Hutch still wasn't back and I heard a small and highly confused voice coming from the bedroom.
„Starsky? Where the hell did you put that tree??“
„But it should be right in front of you“, I returned and went to join him. I pointed towards the table. „See, there it is, right in front of you like I told you.“
Hutch took a few steps towards the table and tried hard to look at the tree standing there. Or could be that he really tried hard to see the little dwarfish thing that stood on the table as a tree. I wasn't sure what to make of his expression at that.
„You cannot be serious“, he exclaimed but a glance towards me proved him wrong. „Oh no, you really can. But Starsk, this isn't a Christmas tree, it is...“I saw him struggling for words, deep down inside of me that little crazy part was giggling gleefully and of course the rest of me wasn't far away from that as well.
„But Starsky, that is a pine bonsai!!!“
„I know, isn't it an adorable Christmas tree?“
„That's not a Christmas tree. That isn't even a real tree?“ He told me and I could see he was working himself into hyperventilation.
„But of course it is a real tree, you said you'd rather like a real tree in the house and that is a real living and breathing tree“, I told him, seriously enjoying this. I've even worked up my sad puppy face look for extra effect, the one I knew would sure get to him. „You just don't appreciate this, do you know how much time I've spent getting that tree, do you know how hard it was to even get a tree that shortly before Christmas??“
„I...I don't know what to say, look I'm sorry Starsky that I'm having such a hard time with this“, he stuttered, clearly flustered. See, my trusty sad puppy face look was working wonders again. „I know the intention was good and we still can keep the little one but it's just not a Christmas tree you know?“
I was almost there, getting to him but decided to draw it out a little bit longer while it lasted.
„I just thought after last time, you know what happened when that large tree and you...“
„I know, don't remind me of that“, Hutch flushed deeply red. Of course he remembered what had happend when he'd tried to put that angel on top of the tree last year, well not that clearly but he remembered waking up a while later, right next to the tree that was in the same horizontal position that he was. But still...
„It still is a pine bonsai, can't we keep that one and get it a big brother tree for Christmas?“ He asked a bit hesitant and now I couldn't help it. I broke down with laughter at that forlon expression on his face.
„You little shit!“ Of course he realized what I'd done, took him a while but after seeing me struggling for breath and the tears streaming down my face he figured it out. „You did that on purpose!“
„What do you think?“ I asked him and I could almost see his thoughts on that one. How could I resist teasing him for his Christmas behaviour in the last years, now that he'd finally surrendered to it? Of course not!
„Couldn't resist“ I grinned broadly and then touched him on the shoulder. „Wait here, I'll go get out Christmas tree.“
„You really have a real one this time?“
I could see he was almost shy too ask, afraid what the answer would be this time and nodded.
„You'd better have, or else...“ But he was grinning when he said that.
I went back outside to my neighbour's house and came back in record time. I had spent a whole afternoon searching for that tree. It really had been hard to find one that shortly before Christmas but we've been that busy with cases. You'd think that the Christmas season would be one where the bad guys would get something of that Christmas spirit and lean back a little but no, this year they were extra busy. I really had been lucky to find that one but I'd have kept searching for it. This Christmas was supposed to be perfect, a special Christmas for Hutch and me, the first one for us after we'd been allowed to go back on the streets together this year. Maybe this was the reason for Hutch's changed attitude towards this particular Holiday. I'll never know.
After wishing my neighbour Happy Holidays I've carried the tree up the stairs to my house. I've put it up directly in front of the door and then knocked.
Hutch opened the door and all he saw was the tree at first and then me, peeking out behind the large tree. He smiled and pulled me inside. Together we've started decorating the tree without saying a word on the tree but both smiling openly and very happily. We've even had some decorations left for the little bonsai tree. After I've put the angel on top of the large tree Hutch stepped back, pulling me towards him to stand beside him.
„You know Starsk, I should be mad at you for pulling that shit with the trees before but I know why you did it“, he said, putting his arm around my shoulders. „And I thank you for that, you probably don't understand why but it means a lot to me. This really is a perfect tree.“
Of course I understood the real meaning behind his words. Not only this Christmas was special but it was us together that made it even more special for him and I smiled wider. It wasn't the tree that made this a perfect Christmas, but us because we were able to celebrate it together again.